Chapter 5 covered by Paul Steinbrueck as part of our Group Blogging Project discussing the book Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps. If you need a quick overview to what Flickering Pixels is about, please go here.
Who is the Antichrist? Barrack Obama? Osama Bin Laden? Harry Potter? Um, he’s not even a real person?
No, the Antichrist is… [roll the creepy music]… Samuel F.B. Morse.
If you slept through history class, Morse is the guy who invented the telegraph. Legend has it this devious device was hand delivered from the bowels of Hades to Morse’s laboratory by none other than the Prince of Darkness himself in exchange for his soul…. Or so one Shane Hipps would have us all believe.
The evil invention of the telegraph has resulted in the end of civilization as we know it and led to the to the eternal demise of more than a billion souls!
Sure, I’m being a bit melodramatic, but in chapter 6 of Flickering Pixels, Hipps makes the case that the telegraph is the snowball that rolled down the snow-covered mountain to become the avalanche of post-modernism and moral relativism.
Prior to the invention of the telegraph, information was always communicated in context for the purpose of increasing understanding and wisdom. But with the invention of the telegraph information was ripped out of its context, and our capacity to understand it was diminished.
Since then we have moved through the eras of radio, broadcast television, cable TV, and Web 1.0 (institutions producing information for the masses). Each advance in technology has enabled more information to be produced by more people and spread faster than ever before. That has brought us to the social media era where anyone can produce an almost unlimited amount of information and disseminate it to billions of people around the world instantly.
Hipps states, “Today we are swallowed by a swarm of unrelated facts accorded equal importance.”
Not only are we left with an overwhelming quantity of information to try to sort through (much of it trivial), but we often know little about its source or the credibility of that source, which makes it difficult to know what to believe.
“I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.” Right?
How has this Impacted Society?
The modern era was based on the underlying principle that universal truth exists for all people, in all places, for all time. In the modern era information came slowly. People had the time to pick up a piece of information like a piece of fruit – squeeze it, smell it, shake it, and put it back if something didn’t seem right.
But in today’s world people are bludgeoned by an overwhelming barrage of information. We are left to try to process hundreds of bits of information every hour. So for the most part we skim and don’t really evaluate too many things too carefully. And even when we really want to know the truth about something – What really happened on 9/11? Is there extra terrestrial life? Is there really a God? – it seems there are a thousand websites with conflicting conclusions all claiming to be experts.
It’s so much, so confusing, and so frustrating that many people have simply thrown in the towel that any universal truth can really be known.
And so here we are in the post-modern era, where…
a) You have your truth, I have my truth, and God is whoever you want Him to be, if you want Him to exist at all, and
b) We are long on facts but short on understanding and wisdom
IMO, Hipps makes a pretty good case showing the correlation between the advancement of communications technology and most-modernism. Agree? Disagree?
I think other factors have also contributed to the rise of post-modernism, but they are largely technology-related too. Transportation technology has dramatically increased world travel and immigration making it much more likely a person will live and work with people who have completely different worldviews. The busy American lifestyle has caused us to devalue reading books, deep thought, and education, leaving many adults without the background or capacity to evaluate and understand all the information they encounter.
Questions to Ponder
I came away from this chapter with two important questions I want to give more thought to – if I can find the time and capacity to do so 😉 I hope you will as well:
1) How am I responding to people with a post-modern worldview who are skeptical of universal truth and put off by the claim that Christianity is the only real faith?
2) What am I doing with technology to produce not just information but understanding and wisdom? And not just in me but in others?